What these social entrepreneurs learned from DC's startup community - Technical.ly DC

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Jul. 6, 2017 12:45 pm

What these social entrepreneurs learned from DC’s startup community

As their time in SEED Spot's first D.C. cohort nears its end, founders talk about growing their businesses.

SEED Spot's demo day is July 13.

(Photo via Twitter)

About six months ago, Phoenix, Arizona-based incubator SEED SPOT joined the growing ecosystem of accelerators in the District to offer social entrepreneurs the opportunity to launch, grow and scale their businesses.

With a week to go before the cohort’s Demo Day, SEED SPOT is preparing its nine social ventures to hit the Warner Theatre stage and showcase what they’ve learned over the course of the 14-week training program.

We caught up with a few members of SEED SPOT’s D.C.’s first cohort, partner Booz Allen Hamilton and founder Courtney Klein to get a taste of what attendees can expect on Demo Day.

“This cohort is incredible,” SEED SPOT founder Courtney Klein stated via email. “The mere fact that they stepped up to become the first entrepreneurs for SEED SPOT in D.C. speaks to their risk tolerance, trust in the D.C. community and willingness to invest in their own growth and that of their venture.”

Janice Omadeke is the founder and CEO of The Mentor Method, one of the nine social impact startups that will be presenting during Demo Day. She was attracted to SEED SPOT’s authenticity and how dedicated the accelerator is to her personal and professional growth. Prior to joining SEED SPOT, Omadeke’s company was in concept mode. Now, it’s looking for a founding partner to join the new inclusion movement.

“For me, I always practice discernment in terms of figuring out what it is I’m getting from an accelerator program in terms of founder’s psychology, the community, as well as how the accelerator’s mission, vision and values are in alignment with my own,” Omadeke said. “SEED SPOT was just the perfect fit for where I am in The Mentor Method’s journey, as well as where I stand personally.”

Now that The Mentor Method is in the enterprise phase, it is connecting with companies to ensure that top performers (specifically those who may be underrepresented) are being mentored and considered for positions within their company.

“After attending the White House summit on building the tech workforce of tomorrow in the fall of 2016, I decided that The Mentor Method should follow an enterprise model in order to have a greater impact faster,” Omadeke said. “Through SEED SPOT, I’ve been able to refine my model and accelerate the process of moving from idea into implementation.”

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Michelle Beaman Chang, another member of the SEED SPOT D.C. cohort, is the CEO and founder of IMBY (In My Backyard), a digital platform that brings together citizens, real estate developers, and local governments to create more responsive communities.

“Surprisingly, my background isn’t in design,” Chang says. “I actually have a law degree but come from a real estate development background which is really finance and communications heavy. What has been helpful in forming the IMBY concept has been immersing myself in the startup world and human-centered design.”

Chang said SEED SPOT’s focus on community was what drew her to the accelerator.

“SEED SPOT has provided the supportive network of people who will not only share great ideas, but give me the push that I need to trust myself and the process,” she said.

Since the accelerator’s arrival in D.C., Booz Allen Hamilton has served as a key partner and provided SEED SPOT members with mentorship and weekly feedback from its employees. Susan Penfield, Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer at Booz Allen Hamilton, explained the significance of the partnership for the 103-year-old consulting firm.

“With community at our core, we have grown attached to the entrepreneurs going through SEED SPOT’s program,” Penfield said via email. “As champions of social good, Booz Allen mentors understand the importance of harnessing and sharing best practices and key lessons learned. I cannot wait to see how their ventures have grown and changed because of mentoring and feedback from the DC community during Venture Thursdays.”

Technical.ly DC will be onhand July 13 for the culmination of SEED SPOT’s first cycle in The District. To RSVP for Demo Day, click below:

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